A flurry of activity propelled Sylvan Lakers towards the deadline for entries in the Kraft Hockeyville competition Saturday evening.
It appears the community support was successful, as Sylvan Lake’s entry, Medican Multi-plex, was in first place across Canada at the close of the initial contest period with 1,953 members and 2,120 uploads, according to a check on the website early Wednesday morning.
That’s significantly higher than the 1,647 members listed for what appeared to be the second place community, Credit Union Centre in Kingston, Nova Scotia.
The numbers changed slightly throughout the day Monday and Tuesday.
The goal was to get Sylvan Lake into the top 16 for the next round of the competition – eight in the west and eight in the east.
Now, during the next month, an in-house panel of judges will adjudicate the entries based one-third each on originality, community spirit and passion for hockey. So having the highest number of members isn’t the only criteria.
The top 16 communities will be announced during Hockey Night in Canada on Mar. 8. Then there’s an intense two day period of voting to narrow the field down to eight.
The top two communities in each bracket that receive the most votes will move forward to the Top 4. They will be revealed on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and then there’s another round of voting from Mar. 15-17 to narrow the field to the Top 2.
The third audience voting period will take place between Mar. 22 and 24. This set of voting will determine the final winner of the grand prize which is $100,000 for local arena upgrades, a 2014-15 NHL pre-season game and a visit from CBC.
Subsidiary prizes of $100,000 in arena upgrades are awarded to each of the east and west finalists and $50,000 to the top two in the east and west. The top 16 teams win $25,000 in arena upgrades. In all cases those moving on to higher awards receive those rather than the lower prizes.
A Facebook page, updated by Dianne Womacks and Karen Van Meer over the past three weeks, climbed over 5,300 likes earlier this week, an indication of interest in our community.
A banner which read Go Sylvan Lake Go Hockeyville Fever 2014 with the Kraft Hockeyville logo, created by Monty at Sir Lancelot Signs at the instigation of Kelly Edgecombe, made the rounds of businesses, teams and schools last week, with pictures snapped by the hundreds and posted either to the Facebook page or the Hockeyville site.
The banner was so motivating, that it’s taken on a life of its own and has actually got a name now, Graham Parsons told town councillors Monday night. “Krafty” has even been requested by several groups for an appearance at special events.
“Businesses loved it. The got pictures taken with it. People are talking about it.”
Many teams also took Go Sylvan Lake Go signs with them to games in distant communities and posed for ‘scramble photos’ with their opponents.
The contest, besides motivating people to write their memories, also spurred many to dig through old pictures and post them to the Hockeyville site.
Another element of the competition was supplied when Darcy Rosie organized a massive group picture with the remains of the old arena in the background. About 325 people braved frigid -30ûC wind chill to be included in the commemorative picture.
“My fingers could hardly move to snap pictures, but I was truly warmed from the inside out as I watched Lakers from young to old arrive by the carload to say goodbye to the “ol’ girl”, wrote Rosie. “I saw familiar faces from the past and present joining together to celebrate our history and cheer on our future. The overhead view provided me with a lot of perspective and what I saw was so … so … what’s the word? So Sylvan Lake.”
He had climbed aboard a boom lift and was high above the crowd to take the pictures, thanks to Rob and John at United Rentals and Dale Armstrong for operating the machine. In his report, Rosie also thanked Nikki Booth for use of her camera.
“Out of the ashes of the Jan. 20 event, a great event happened,” Parsons told councillors Monday night. “It took off all last week and the past weekend. The initiative to have Sylvan Lake become Kraft Hockeyville 2014.”
It was initially spurred by Kevin Putnam and Jared Waldo. But it quickly took on a life of its own, growing as community spirit rallied.
“Support from everybody in the community, people outside the community just took right off,” said Parsons. “It’s drawn the community together like nothing else I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been here. People have shared what they thought of the arena and social fabric of the community.”
He reminded people we’ve just gotten past stage one. Now the wait is on for the official announcement of the Top 16 communities.
We know we’re first in the nation in terms of members.
We initially set our sights on becoming first in the west trying to catch Salmon Arm, began Parsons. On the way we destroyed Castlegar (home of the councillor father of Sylvan Lake councillor Megan Chernoff), and then after passing Salmon Arm had our sights set on Kingston, Nova Scotia. “We went past them, it was a great community effort.”
Kingston recorded 1,647 members and 1,877 uploads. Overall the Kraft Hockeyville site recorded 10,859 members and 11,363 uploads.
(For those interested in statistics, that means Sylvan Lake accounted for just about 18 per cent of the overall total members.)
“The community has to give themselves a pat on the back,” said Parsons. “It bodes well for fundraising we’re going to have for a new facility, it’s a shot in the arm.”
In the meantime, the stories and pictures contributed by our residents and friends remain on the site for viewing. If you haven’t had chance to read some of the passionate accounts, take a look at www.krafthockeyville.cbc.ca/.